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Why I Feel Like Iron Man Because of My Port-a-Cath

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Quick! Name a body modification your parents would never let you have. Is it a tongue piercing? Lip? Nipple? Other… places? What about mid-sternum? What about a weird, alien looking egg that sits right under your skin?

I, for one, see my port-a-cath not as an alien egg – but as a kind of Tony Stark-esque reactor.

Every week, three times a week, I stab myself in the chest with a needle. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I receive 1.5 liters of Saline fluids via a pump I carry in a cute holographic backpack. When the pump is going, I tell people I’m a robot getting my robot juice. They laugh, I sigh because it’s easier than explaining how the Saline fluffs up my low blood volume and keeps me from fainting every time I stand up because as soon as they hear “heart rate increase” they think it’s a heart problem.

Psst… it’s a neurological condition.

So here’s my two cents to anyone looking into, living with, or about to receive a port-a-cath.

It will change your life.

No longer will you be tied to a pole for over four hours as gravity slowly pulls the liquid into your veins. You’re free to walk around! That magic pump will be your best friend.

When/if you learn to access yourself, you’ll feel a bit unstoppable. I mean, who wouldn’t? You stick a needle into your own chest! (Don’t forget that you’re only human.)

The writer standing with a backpack on, wearing a port.

Tegaderm and all other adhesives are evil, apologize to your skin.

Don’t pull off your surgical glue… even though it’s super satisfying, you could pull open your healing scar. Just gently itch around it and trim any edges with nail scissors or nail clippers.

And finally, if a little kid asks what the tube coming out of your shirt is… say you’re Iron Man.

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Originally published: August 22, 2017
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